Accepted Paper:

Perspectives and visions. About the uses of ethnographic artefacts in art museums and exhibitions discourses in Italy.  


Cristina Balma-Tivola

Paper short abstract:

Ethnographic collections in Italian museums are differently conceived depending on museum identity (anthropological or artistic), and education and vision of their curators, thus showing a wide range of proposals and discourses (as exemplified by the case-study of Turin here taken into account).

Paper long abstract:

Owned by private and public institutions, a number of anthropological artefacts collections are disseminated all over Italy showing a large variety in their status understanding and exhibition.

The first case is that of anthropological museums (Museo Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini in Rome, Museo delle Culture del Mondo in Genoa etc.) that, although paying a renewed interest in the aesthetic value of the objects, seem to conceive them as "cultural mediators" useful to develop decolonial/post-colonial discourses and to promote polyphonic conversations in line with the recent aims of (scientific) world cultures museums.

The second case is that of those institutions and initiatives where the aesthetic value of the object is overriding (such as in various museums of oriental art or when the objects are displayed in art exhibitions, such as in many recently hosted in Triennale in Milan), this leading to more subjective and controversial situations.

This second situation shows a range of comprehensions, dynamics, solutions and discourses quite challenging for anthropologists, sometimes resulting in surprising insights and inspiring proposals, sometimes in disconcerting connections and assertions.

An anthropological reading of the matter in Turin represents an interesting case-study, as the municipal ethnographic collection formerly held in a specific ethnographic museum is now disseminated in various art museums (Museo d'Arte Orientale, Museo Civico d'Arte Antica), from time to time in dialogue with other ethnographic collections or with European artworks (as in the case of the recent exhibitions Cose d'altri mondi, 2017, and Odissee, 2018, both at Museo Civico d'Arte Antica).

Panel P109
Curating with an Anthropological Approach